60th year commemoration of the creation of Maname and Rekhawa : Commending legacies and legends of our arts | Sunday Observer

60th year commemoration of the creation of Maname and Rekhawa : Commending legacies and legends of our arts

Dr. Lester James Peries felicitated by the Sri Lankan Premier, watched by Mrs Sumithra Peries, Ministers Gayantha Karunathilaka, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranavithana.

One of the highlights of the evening was a rendition of two songs in Maname, by the award winning all women’s choir Soul Sounds. Under the expert direction of Soundarie David Rodrigo the young ladies, draped in alluring green sari, sang to mesmerise the audience, and for a moment cast enchantment upon the senses that held complete sway through the beauty of the Sinhala language set in lyrical flow. Listening to Soul Sounds sing ‘Premayen mana ranjith ve...’ created within me a serene meditative moment

‘Temple Trees’ bloomed with aesthetic pulses and heartfelt smiles on the evening of the 25th of October, Tuesday, as the Prime Ministerial residential complex became the venue to host the 60th year commemoration of the creation of Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s stage play Maname and Lester James Peries’ film Rekhawa back in 1956. Maname and Rekhawa stand together as works which are saluted and celebrated in the annals of Sri Lanka’s journey in theatre and cinema. The Tower Hall Theatre Foundation (THTF) in organising this event has therefore rendered a praiseworthy service to the sphere of Art by bringing together a felicitation ceremony presided by the distinguished patronage of the Chairman of the THTF – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

High artistic merit

Former Sri Lanka Administrative Service Officer, Lionel Fernando who is the current Director General of the THTF and his entire staff proved they are representatives of an institution that has much to offer the nation in helping the inculcation of good taste in the arts, especially, among the youth of the country. The Prime Minister in his speech highlighted that it is imperative that the government make efforts to make the four and a half lakhs of Sri Lankan schoolchildren be exposed to works of art that carry high artistic merit. He recalled his own fond memories of going to the theatre with his mother, the late Nalini Wickremesinghe who was a sincere patroness of the arts. Further, on a lighter note, he mentioned that as a boy he watched Lionel Fernando who acted in the first production of Maname perform on stage, as well as Mrs. Iranganie Serasinghe who was among the invitees, perform onscreen, and that now, they have become spectators of how he has been made to perform on political platforms.

Commemorative plaque

A commemorative plaque was ceremonially unveiled by the Prime Minister to commemorate this milestone. Awards were presented to all surviving artistes who were part of the first Maname production and also the artistes who are among us today, who were involved in Rekhawa. Heartfelt standing ovations rippled as the veterans were felicitated. Smiles spread across the faces of all present who felt the evening was an endearing occasion where gratitude was proffered upon a generation who tirelessly offered their talents to uplift theatre and cinema in Sri Lanka.


Commemorative plaque ceremonially unveiled by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

One of the highlights of the evening was a rendition of two songs in Maname, by the award winning all women’s choir Soul Sounds. Under the expert direction of Soundarie David Rodrigo the young ladies, draped in alluring green sari, sang to mesmerise the audience, and for a moment cast enchantment upon the senses that held complete sway through the beauty of the Sinhala language set in lyrical flow. Listening to Soul Sounds sing ‘Premayen mana ranjith ve...’ created within me a serene meditative moment. At moments such as that when gripped by the sheer beauty of the lyrics in musical motion one cannot help but feel proud and blessed to be able to claim Sinhala as one’s mother tongue. It was a rendition that all of Sri Lanka must applaud for the pristine beauty it carried with acoustical delivery of Sinhala words, not tinged even in the faintest way, with subtle Anglo-Saxon twists.

In an era where Sinhala radio stations have on air young broadcasters who brazenly twist Sinhala phonology to make their diction bogusly sound as though they are westerners who grudgingly grasped Sinhala words, and bend it beyond recognition, Soul Sounds must be hailed wholeheartedly for offering a moment of song where the beauty of Sinhala completely pervaded the senses. Their rendition was one that paid tribute to not only the late great Sarachchandra but also our mother tongue. I have no doubts, had Prof. Sarachchandra heard it, the maestro would have been mesmerised. One does sincerely hope Soul Sounds will consider producing an album of songs from classical Sinhala theatre in the future.

The world’s oldest living filmmaker Dr. Lester James Peries who was felicitated by the Sri Lankan Premier rose to his feet and spoke a few words to the immeasurable delight of the entire gathering. The occasion was thus made even more significant as it is now an immensely rare opportunity to hear the master filmmaker address an audience.

As Sri Lanka’s journey in the arts and letters get periodically inscribed in the history books through various written records of both State and individuals, to hold a memory of the rich aesthetic heritage our country can speak of, the evening of the 25th September at Temple Trees organised by the THTF too will find its space to speak of how post independence resurgence in the arts in 1956 was not forgotten 60 years later, amid the digital modernity of the 21st century. 

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